Phil, I am not now, and never have been, impressed by David Plouffe. If I were asked to explain Obama’s victory in two words, those words would be: John McCain.
I said on Super Tuesday that McCain would lose in November, and I was right. I’ve also noted that McCain got only 47% of votes in the GOP primaries, even though his most formidable adversary, Mitt Romney, quit the race two days after Super Tuesday. The McCain campaign wasted the next four months. It was not until Steve Schmidt took over in late June that the campaign began to show any sign of life.
The object of Operation Chaos, as Limbaugh said repeatedly, was to turn the Democratic nomination fight into a deadlock. It fell short of that objective in part because many Republican voters failed to heed Limbaugh’s advice. As it was, Obama finished the primary campaign short of a majority of pledged delegates and got the nomination only because he lured super-delegates away from Hillary.
As of July, as I pointed out at the time, polls showed Obama and McCain in a virtual dead heat, and the contest swung back and forth into September, when McCain’s freakout over the economic crisis destroyed his campaign. I also pointed out in July that the late surge by Hillary meant that she had to be appeased, and thus she’s now Obama’s choice for Secretary of State — affording Republicans an excellent political opportunity, as Quin and I agree.
It is in David Plouffe’s interest to tell the story of the Obama campaign as the “Triumph of Hope” narrative, to cast the defeat of Hillary as a work of strategic brilliance — even though, as we have since learned, Team Clinton was woefully unprepared for a contested primary campaign. Plouffe may even believe his own hype. But I refuse to play along with such Jedi mind tricks.
UPDATE: From the same article you quote, Phil, here’s Plouffe:
[The McCain campaign] careened from message to message, strategy to strategy. We had one message, one strategy. We won all three debates. When was the last time one candidate won all the debates? . . . McCain, he suspends his campaign around the economic issues, we don’t. There’s no doubt our voters liked our stability and punished McCain for his erratic-ness.
So, since in this part of the interview, he’s confirming my point — that McCain was a lousy candidate who ran a lousy campaign — now I will quote Plouffe as an authoritative expert. And anybody who thought McCain won any of the debates is hallucinating. Old bald guys don’t win debates in the TV age.
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